View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



December 2011



Chet's Corner: A Look Back – Rookie of the Year

Written by , Posted in General

While I sit waiting with the rest of Cub nation for news out of the GM Meetings of our next big trade or acquisition, I managed to stumble across some interesting information.   

First and foremost, if any of you want a good read about the Cubs century plus of futility I suggest this Joe Posnanski article.  This is a comprehensive breakdown of ownership philosophies, curses, bad deals, and Cubbie occurrences dating back to the early 1900’s up to present day.  It would be better titled “Why the Cubs are the Cubs”, but Joe’s title, “The Cubs”, works too.

After reading this article I decided to do a little search regarding some other Cubs lore.  First thing I wanted to find out was how many Rookie of the Year awards had actually been awarded to Cubs players.  Since 1950 the answer is 5.  We average one every ten years.  Here they are….

1961 – Billy Williams

              Nothing shocking here.  The only shocking thing to note is that we did not have one from 1950 until 1961.   In 1954 Ernie Banks took second to St Louis’ Wally Moon.  Wally ran away with it and had 17 first place votes, Ernie had 4.  Don’t feel so bad though, a young slugger named Henry Aaron finished fourth with 1 vote.  In 1960 Hall of Famer Ron Santo (Doesn’t that sound great?) was fourth in voting.

              Billy Williams batted .278 with 25 HR’s and 86 RBI’s.  he also had an .822 OPS.  I would take that right now.  He got 10 votes.  A guy by the name of Joe Torre got second place with 5 votes.

1962 – Ken Hubbs

              Ken’s offense was not his strong point.  His numbers were average at best.  It was his defense that got him recognition.  He was the first ever Rookie Gold Glover (He played 2nd Base).  He set two records for fielding in his rookie season as he went 78 games and 418 chances without an error.  He got 19 of the 20 first place votes. 

              Sadly enough, Ken’s true potential would never be reached.  He was killed in a plane crash in 1964.  The 1963 season was his last.

1989 – Jerome Walton

              Oh, what promise 1989 held.  If you were a Cubs fan this was going to be the beginning of a long a fruitful decade…not so.  Jerome Walton would never come close to his projected potential after 1989.  He spent a 9 year career mainly on the DL.

              1989 also saw the emergence of Dwight Smith.  He finished second in the balloting.  Unfortunately, in Cubbie fashion, we got 2 guys at the top of Rookie of the Year balloting and neither one ever panned out.   Dwight Smith’s career went along a similar path as Walton’s.  He did manage to hit .300 again for the Cubs in 1993, but that was about it.  He actually never amassed enough at bats to qualify for ranking in any statistical category for the remainder of his career.  He did however win a World Series with Atlanta in 1995.  He was used mainly as a pinch hitter.   

1998 – Kerry Wood

             Outside of Billy Williams this one has probably paid the most dividends.  While the book is not yet written on Kerry’s career, I think we have seen his best years long ago.   His 20 strikeout game in 1998 is still a top Cub memory of mine over the past two decades. 

2008 – Geovany Soto

             Here is a sad stat, from 1999-2007 only one cub even got a vote for Rookie of the Year.  It was Mark Prior in 2002.  This might be a telling sign that explains some of the Cubs recent struggles. 

             The book on Geovany has a ways to be finished but it looks like his days with the Cubs could be numbered.  Many think he will be a trade candidate in the near future. 


I have to admit, I thought we would have had a few more.  If you have any interest in seeing where some other Cubs have placed in voting, check here



  • Chuck

    Kerry Wood’s career makes me sad. He could have been Roger Clemens without the asshole.

  • chet

    Chuck, I too think the same. But I also wonder, how good would Roger have been without the HGH, steroids and god knows what else?

    Kerry could have taken these things to strengthen his career and heal faster. Pretty sure he didn’t and if he did he should get a refund.

  • Kid K was on greenies. They all were back then. Ken Hubbs was on so many greenies that he tried to fly the airplane himself, actually causing the crash that took his life. Jerome Walton was injured several times carrying cases of greenies into the clubhouse.

  • Doc Raker

    In 1982 Ryne Sandberg came in 6th in ROY behind Steve Sax. Coming in 3rd for ROY in 1982 was Willie McGee who would later hit for the cycle in the Ryne Sandberg game on June 23 1984. McGee was voted the player of the game by Bob Costas and the broadcast media until Sandberg went yard a second time off Bruce Sutter and then Sandberg and McGee were voted co players of the game. If anyone can find Harry’s radio call of the second home run it is a great call, “He did it again” in Harry’s late inning slurred Old Style fashion. Also on the ROY ballot in 1982 in 8th place was the late Eric Show who would face the Cubs in the 84 playoffs. In 1982 Sandberg came in 2nd in Gold Glove for 3b behind Mike Schmidt. Steve Sax went on to torment Dodger season ticket holders located behind the 1st base dugout with wild throws. No fan in the box seats behind the first base dugout was safe as long as Sax was throwing over to first. The reality is few ROY go on to have stellar or HOF careers.

  • Buddy

    The Rocket also had solid command (2.9 walks per 9 IP in 24 seasons), which is something that has always eluded Wood (4.3 walks per 9 IP in 13 seasons).

  • Buddy

    Doc raises an interesting question (I know, I’m shocked too). How many ROY’s have gone on to the Hall? Anyone?

  • Doc Raker

    Only 1 ROY Cub went to the Hall.

  • Buddy

    How about in baseball history?

  • Billy Williams was hopped up on greenies during his induction ceremony. He misspoke and called Ernie Banks “Bernie” several times.

  • blpcb

    Woody had 21 K’s? I thought it was 20. I’ll never forget that, because it was the first ever baseball game I watched (which made me a Cubs fan), and that is my boss’ birthday.
    Me May 5 this year: Do you know what happened 13 years ago tomorrow
    Boss: Of course I know what happened. It was a Wednesday, it was my 28th birthday, I was sitting at home, watching Woody, eating 2 racks of ribs. One of the best days of my life.

  • Buddy

    It was May 6th.

  • Buddy

    Interesting collection of ROY talent since 1980 (please note…this list doesn’t include every single honoree, so you don’t need to type “you forgot Walt Weiss”): NL–Valenzuela, Strawberry, Gooden, Justice, Bagwell, Piazza, Nomo, Rolen, Wood, Furcal, Pujols, Bay, Howard, H. Ramirez, Braun AL–Righetti, Ripken, Canseco, McGwire, Knoblauch, Salmon, Jeter, Nomar, Beltran, Ichiro, Street, Verlander, Pedroia, Longoria

  • Fun fact: Aside from Walt Weiss, all listed players were taking astonishingly large amounts of greenies during their rookie seasons. The Bash Brothers didn’t receive that nickname due to their slugging, but rather from “bashing” pills in the locker room before games. Those pills? Greenies.


    Jose Canseco wrote in his book they were shooting steroids in each others butts before games

  • Buddy

    The Hideo Nomo-greenie scandal almost brought the game to its knees.

  • CubbieDude

    I sometimes listen to “Greenie” and “Golic” in the morning. Usually that’s when “this morning” is still “last night”.


    Congress really ought to hold more joint sessions

  • Speaking of joint sessions, the 21 has been fixed and changed to 20. Would have been cooler if it was 21 though.

  • Doc Raker

    Out of Buddy’s list I see 4 HOF’ers. Pujols, Ripken, Billy not Cal by the way, Ichiro and some guy from NY.




    Speaking of joint sessions, part 2, I think there are people at my work who wake and bake. We were discussing driving one day, and one of the employees asked me, the driver, if I have my drivers license. Then when I brought up my Florida internship, she was surprised to find out about this, even though I’ve been mentioning it for the last month.

  • chet

    Funny, but Knoblauch and Sax ended up with the same problem!

  • Buddy

    Knoblauch is an interesting HOF candidate. My vote would be no, but I can see why others would say yes. Other hall-worthy players from the quick list above include McGwire, Bagwell, Piazza, Rolen, and Pujols.

  • Doc Raker

    Knoblauch no way HOF. Pujols signed with the Angels, $250M for 30 years.

  • flyslinger2

    ^ An interesting study would be a side by side comparison of the statistics (# of golden gloves, rookies of the year, batting championships, etc and the budget that it took to get these results) of the other franchises that were decades long leaders in their divisions and compare them to the Cubs. I think we all know what it would show.
    ^ I have been of the opinion for a long time that these teams and players are bought and sold as commodities-big toys for rich boyz. They aren’t traded on Wall Street like your normal stock but they are looked at as an investment.
    ^ I have a better feeling about this current ownership/management team then I have in a long time.


    The Knoblauch thing was a joke. Doc said some guy from NY

  • Buddy

    I wouldn’t vote for Chuck, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds. He’s a middle infielder with a career onbase percentage of .380.